Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Women of the Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin & Michael Jones

Anyone who enjoys Philippa Gregory’s historical novels, or wants to know the history behind those stories, will find her book, The Women of the Cousins’ War, to be fascinating. Along with two other historians, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, Gregory writes about “The Duchess, the Queen, and the King’s Mother.”

Who are these women? They are relatively unknown women, the women in the noble family that came before the Tudors.  This book allows the three historians to tell the truth (as much as is known) about the women of Gregory’s Cousins War novels. Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford is the heroine of her latest novel, The Lady of the Rivers. Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England, is featured in The White Queen. And, Margaret Beaufort is the founder of the Tudor dynasty, featured in The Red Queen.

The book is intriguing because little is actually known of the lives of these women because it’s only in recent years that women were studied. No one is sure when these women were born, where they were at certain points of their lives, and even how many children they had. Gregory’s introduction is fascinating, explaining the background, and lack of information. Each of the authors admit this lack of knowledge, beginning with Gregory. Her account of Jacquetta’s life begins, “Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born, perhaps in one of her family’s chateaux in France, probably in the year 1416.” Perhaps, probably. I admire historians who admit there isn’t a great deal of information.

The authors may not be sure about dates or information, but they each present solid accounts of the women. And, there are extensive notes and bibliographies for readers who want to know more.

Philippa Gregory responded to readers who asked for more information about the women of her novels by giving us The Women of the Cousins’ War. It’s a readable account of the lives and myths of a small group of women who changed history.

Philippa Gregory's website is

The Women of the Cousins’ War by Philippa Gregory., David Baldwin & Michael Jones. Touchstone. ©2011. ISBN 9781451629545 (hardcover), 342p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Ingrid King said...

I'm not a big fan of historical novels, but I've enjoyed Philippa Gregory's books ever since I first read The Other Boleyn Girl. I'll add this to my list!

Liz V. said...

Elizabeth Woodville has fascinated me since reading Tey's The Daughter of Time. Worth reading The Women of the Cousins' War just for insight into her character.

Lesa said...

Another one for that TBR pile, Ingrid. Yours in getting as bad as mine.

Lesa said...

Just remember, Liz, there isn't a great deal actually known about any of these women. But, it is well done.